Gateway T-6828 Review

by Jerry Jackson Reads (45,017)

by Jerry Jackson

The Gateway T-series notebooks are the "little brothers" to the larger M-series laptops and provide multimedia performance in a sleek, stylish design. Packing Intel Core 2 Duo processors, plenty of RAM and large-capacity hard drives these budget notebooks are certainly attractive to many consumers looking for a portable multimedia center for bringing movies, music and digital photos on the go. But does this Gateway offer more than good looks and a low price? Let’s take a closer look.

Our Gateway T-6828 ($799.99) review unit features the following specifications:

  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit) SP1
  • Intel Core 2 Duo processor T5550 (1.83GHz)
  • 14.1" Ultrabright WXGA TFT LCD
  • 3GB DDR2 system RAM
  • 250GB SATA HDD (5400rpm)
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 (up to 384MB shared)
  • DVD+-RW SuperMulti dual layer drive
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • Wireless LAN: Intel PRO/Wireless 4965 802.11a/b/g/n
  • 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • 5-in-1 memory card reader
  • ExpressCard 54 slot
  • 6-cell Li-Ion battery (4400mAh)
  • Dimensions: 1.1"-1.30" (H) x 12.95" (W) x 9.75" (D)
  • Weight: 5.55 lbs
  • Warranty: Two Year Parts and Labor Limited Warranty


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Build and Design

The T-6828 features a striking all-new design with a "Garnet Red" finish, that looks reasonably durable and attractive at the same time. The key chassis elements of this eye-catching design are thick plastics and metal accents. Integrated above the notebook’s keyboard is a brushed-metal multimedia control panel, featuring smooth-cut keys in a "tooth" pattern and a touch-sensitive volume adjustment.


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The lid hinge feels surprisingly solid for a consumer notebook in this price range and the rounded edges of the notebook make for a much cleaner and thinner overall appearance. The choice of glossy plastics/coatings on the screen lid and palm rests means the surface is a magnet for fingerprints. On the bright side, you can easily wipe the fingerprints away from the glossy surface with a cloth.

One minor issue we didn’t expect to see is that the attractive red paint job on the T-6828 isn’t applied all the way to the edge of the chassis. In multiple locations around the edges of the notebook you can clearly see where the red paint doesn’t go all the way to the edge … exposing the black plastic underneath. This doesn’t look like it should pass quality control inspection.


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Screen

Although the 1280×800 resolution display on the T-6828 is far from 1080p high definition, the screen provides rich colors, superb clarity and good brightness. There were absolutely no problems with the screen on our review unit: the refresh rate seems excellent when videos or games with fast motion are displayed and there are no stuck pixels. As is common with glossy screens, colors and contrast are quite good and both images and video "pop" off the screen. Brightness is good but not quite as impressive as some of the screens we’ve seen in the last year. For example, at maximum brightness there is enough light coming from the screen to make for an enjoyable viewing experience … but not enough light to cause eye strain.

Horizontal viewing angles are average and the backlight brightness remains even across the screen while viewing at extreme horizontal angles. There is some obvious color inversion when you view the screen from low vertical angles and the screen almost completely washes out when viewed from above. Of course, as with any glossy screen reflection from room lights can become a problem … depending on the room and the lights.


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Webcam

The integrated 1.3 megapixel webcam on the T-6828 is a nice feature with mixed performance. The pre-installed Gateway Web Camera software makes it quick and easy to capture still images or live video using the built-in webcam. The video frame rate was good enough to capture smooth motion but colors came out a bit green under our florescent office lighting. Overall, the webcam is perfectly capable for online video chat or business video conference calls.

One negative web camera-related issue that kept "popping up" during review was the "pop up" Gateway Web Camera control interface. While it was nice to have quick access to the web camera controls, every time the mouse pointer came close to the left side of the screen the annoying pop up control panel would appear … making it difficult to select items on the Windows desktop.

Keyboard, Touchpad and Other Input Buttons

The keyboard on the T-6828 was a welcome improvement over most keyboards we see on consumer notebooks. The keys have a good texture with excellent cushion and travel. The keys aren’t as silent in operation as those found on more expensive business class notebooks, but there was minimal "clack" while typing. Gateway also includes dedicated page up, page down, home, and end keys. Of special note is the fact that the keyboard has very little flex, with just some minor flex on the left side of the board near the A, S, and D keys.


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The touchpad was responsive with a nice texture and felt durable. The scroll section of the touchpad is clearly marked and immediately responsive for page scrolling. The touchpad buttons have deep, cushioned feedback and responded well to normal pressure. That said, the touchpad buttons did make loud "clicks" when pressed … which may prove annoying to some users (or office coworkers).


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As mentioned previously, the media buttons on the T-6828 are integrated above the notebook’s keyboard in a brushed-metal multimedia control panel. The media buttons are actually located under the smooth-cut "tooth" pattern in the metal and respond instantly to light pressure. These buttons allow you to instantly start Windows Media Player, watch a DVD, listen to a CD or music file, or control iTunes with ease. A touch-sensitive volume adjustment is located to the right of the media buttons and lights up with blue LED back lighting when pressed.


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Performance and Benchmarks

Gateway chose to offer the T-series in a range of configurations based around the Intel Core 2 Duo T5550 (1.83GHz) processor. While the T5550 with its 2MB of L2 cache and 667MHz frontside bus provides excellent performance for an entry-level consumer notebook, it would have been nice to have faster processors with twice the cache and 800MHz frontside bus as an option for people who need faster multimedia encoding or image editing.

The Intel X3100 integrated graphics with up to 384MB of dynamically allocated shared memory provides enough video horsepower for an average consumer machine. The primary benefit of integrated graphics is extended battery life and reduced heat.

In any case, the T-6828 is an everyday consumer notebook and not a "gaming machine" so the lack of dedicated graphics isn’t a deal killer. In fact, the reduced weight and heat as well as increased battery life should be considered as reasons for wanting integrated graphics.

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi. (Lower numbers mean better performance.)

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Gateway T-6828 (Core 2 Duo T5550 @ 1.83GHz) 45.457s
Toshiba Satellite M305 (Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz) 38.532s
Toshiba Satellite A305 (Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz) 36.442s
Asus M51S (Core 2 Duo T5550 @ 1.83GHz) 46.293s
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 (Core 2 Duo T5450 @ 1.66GHz) 50.184s
HP Pavilion dv6700t (Core 2 Duo T5450 @ 1.66GHz) 50.480s
Dell Inspiron 1525 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 43.569s
Dell XPS M1530 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)
37.485s
Portable One SXS37 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 41.908s
Sony VAIO NR (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz) 58.233s
Toshiba Tecra A9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 38.343s
Toshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.299s
HP Compaq 6910p (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 40.965s
Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz) 76.240s
Zepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 42.385s
Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.705s
Alienware M5750 (Core 2 Duo T7600 @ 2.33GHz) 38.327s
Hewlett Packard DV6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz) 38.720s
Samsung Q70 (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 42.218s
Acer Travelmate 8204WLMi (Core Duo T2500 @ 2.0GHz) 42.947s

 

PCMark05 overall performance comparison results (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Gateway T-6828 (1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550, Intel X3100)
3,656 PCMarks
Gateway M-6816 (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 3,480 PCMarks
LG R500 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS 256MB) 4,702 PCMarks
HP dv2500t (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 4,522 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,925 PCMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,377 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,591 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 4,153 PCMarks
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,987 PCMarks
Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB) 4,189 PCMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony VAIO SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400) 3,646 PCMarks

 

3DMark06 gaming performance comparison results (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Gateway T-6828 (1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550, Intel X3100) 469 3DMarks
Gateway M-6816 (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 529 3DMarks
LG R500 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS 256MB) 2,776 3DMarks
HP dv2500t (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,055 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,329 3DMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 532 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,408 3DMarks
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU) 1,069 3DMarks
Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB) 2,344 3DMarks
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB 2,183 3DMarks
Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 3DMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB) 1,831 3DMarks
Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB) 1,819 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 827 3DMarks

HDTune results:


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Input and Output Ports

Overall, Gateway includes the standard fanfare of ports on the T-6828. If anything can be considered lacking in this section it is the absence of both Firewire and HDMI. The rest of the port selection includes:


Front view: Microphone in and headphone out jacks. (view large image)


Right side view: Optical drive and a single USB port. (view large image)


Left side view: Ethernet, two USB ports, heat exhaust, 5-in-1 card reader, ExpressCard 54 slot and wireless on/off switch. (view large image)


Rear view: Modem jack, Kensington lock slot, VGA out, and DC power jack. (view large image)

Audio

The built-in speakers on the T-6828 are average for a consumer 14.1" notebook, and by that I mean to say the speakers are not particularly impressive. Both of the small speakers located above the keyboard produce a "tin can" sound quality with plenty of highs, some reasonable mid range and absolutely no bass. On the bright side, the speakers are located in a good position to direct sound up and toward the user. The sound quality is perfectly fine for Windows alert sounds and website music. Unfortunately, anyone listening to music files or viewing movies on this notebook will want to use headphones or external speakers for superior sound quality.


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On that note it’s worthwhile to mention that the audio out port on the T-6828 is located on the front directly below the touchpad buttons. This is a great location for a headphone connection but is less than ideal for using external speakers. The audio output was clean (there was no static or cracking in the sound coming from the headphone jack).

Heat and Noise

The T-6828 does an excellent job of controlling both internal heat and noise. The cooling fan was rarely louder than a whisper even on the high setting. The massive copper heatsink visible through the air vent on the left side of the notebook likely contributes to the T-6828′s ability to keep temperatures under control. CPU temperatures peaked at no more than 53 degrees Celsius during benchmarks and hard drive temperatures averaged less than 40 degrees Celsius. The palm rests never became too hot during our tests and the left palm rest spiked at no more than 92 degrees Fahrenheit. The bottom of the notebook remained reasonably cool … never exceeding the upper 90s. Bottom line, the T-6828 stays cool.


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Battery

Battery life on the T-6828 with the standard 6-cell battery slightly above average. With the screen brightness set to full, wireless on, and Vista power settings set to "Balanced," the Gateway powered down in just more than three hours (3 hours and 18 minutes). With power management set to "Power Saver" and screen at half brightness the battery lasted 3 hours and 52 minutes while browsing the web. In short, the T-6828 does a pretty good job in terms of power consumption and should provide enough juice for most airline travel or short road trips.

Conclusion

The Gateway T-6828 is a solid consumer notebook with plenty of power for everyday use. The low price, sizable hard drive, reasonably good battery life, and relatively cool temperatures help make the T-6828 a real value. The Core 2 Duo processor and solid 3GB of RAM mean this Gateway has enough performance to keep the average user quite happy … as long as you don’t care about playing the latest video games.

Bottom line, the Gateway T-6828 is an excellent value in the 14.1" consumer notebook class. That said, for a little bit more money you can find similar notebooks with dedicated graphics cards for reasonable gaming performance.

Pros:

  • Good performance for everyday use
  • Solid, stylish construction
  • Minimal heat and noise
  • Reasonably low price
  • Good battery life with standard battery

Cons:

  • Glossy plastics around screen and on palm rests are prone to fingerprints
  • Poor viewing angles on screen
  • Paint isn’t applied all the way to edge of chassis
  • Annoying pop-up web camera control panel


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